Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that has been around for quite a few decades. In the 1990s there was a brief boom in the technology, however, thanks to technical limitations and the common side effect of making users feel incredibly ill the fad soon faded.
VR is back with a bang and this time it has the technology behind it to make it work. This new generation of VR tech has some surprising benefits to the healthcare sector and looks set to revolutionise medicine over the coming years.
Virtual Reality Medical Training
Being able to get hands-on realistic experience without the risk of injuring or killing a living person is made possible by VR. The medical sector has welcomed VR technology with open arms and is now a valuable tool for training institutions to turn students into the medical experts of the future. VR can simulate operational procedures, help diagnose conditions such as broken bones and much more. In 2016 a cancer surgeon performed an operation using a VR camera. This allowed viewers to participate in the operation in real time. The operation highlights just how invaluable a teaching tool VR can be.
Virtual Reality Preventative Medicine
Researchers studying diseases and medicines are using VR technology to assist with creating cures and medicines. VR allows a researcher to experiment in a safe environment with no risk to anyone. As well as that they can operate on the micro level via simulation and computer programmes allowing them to see how diseases work on the smallest scales imaginable.
Entertaining and Calming Patients
As a hospital patient, it can feel as though time comes to a standstill as you count down the days before you are released. You miss your family and friends and are likely worried about your condition. To help alleviate the boredom and stress some hospitals in the US have introduced VR. Wearing VR goggles a patient can escape the confines of the hospital ward and explore an amazing virtual world. The reduction in stress and pain can also be beneficial to the healing process.
VR’s ability to effectively dupe the brain into thinking that what your seeing is real can be used to help people beat their fears. Experiments on people suffering from a fear of heights have been successful and trials to help people beat their fear of spiders and other animals have also shown promising results.
The potential medical benefits of VR are vast and as the technology is still relatively new and improving the technology could soon be adapted much more widely to treat a whole range of conditions.